• Caroline Nolder


Cutting down on food waste. For example, by growing food onsite, sourcing food locally, and shifting social norms to ensure that “plate waste” is no longer considered acceptable (Benjamin Lephilibert, HYB2018).

Minimizing water usage beyond the hotel room. In addition to encouraging guests to be mindful of their water and towel usage, some properties are turning to innovations such as showers that filter their own water (Inge Huijbrechts, HYB2018).

Eliminating plastic. A step beyond recycling, doing away with single-use plastic products can help limit the huge amount of waste stemming from creating and discarding these items. Getting rid of plastic water bottles and plastic bags is a good place to start (Jeanne Varney, HYB2020).

Conserving energy. This “economically sustainable method” is effective and easy to apply, for example by redesigning the guest experience to encourage guests to apply adaptive behaviors. One way is to replace the mini-fridge and coffee machine in each room with a communal amenities area in an open guest space (Christopher Warren, HYB2020).

Creating a paperless hotel. A task made easy by a modern property management system, which will simplify operations and streamline the guest experience while reducing carbon emissions (Terence Ronson, HYB2018).

Integrating sustainability into the hotel architecture. In building new properties, there is a “three-zero-concept” approach: using local construction materials and skills (zero kilometers), prioritizing energy management and lower emissions (zero carbon dioxide), and introducing life-cycle management into the building process (zero waste) (Matteo Thun, HYB2020).

Going green: good for the world, good for bringing in the hotel guests of today (and tomorrow)

Beyond the noble goal of decarbonization, there are economic factors driving the industry trend toward sustainability as well.

The U.N. World Tourism Organization predicts that by the year 2020, there will be some 1.6 billion eco-inspired trips taken.

Eco-friendliness is evolving from a nice-to-have, on-trend hotel commodity to a must-have priority for a growing number of environmentally and socially conscious travelers.

We see this especially among the rising generation of travelers and hotel bookers. A study on millennial consumer behavior, conducted by The Nielsen Company, found that sustainability is a shopping priority among this influential and travel-prone generation. In fact, 66% of global respondents (up 11% from the previous year) would “pay more for products and services from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact” (Nielsen, 2015).

In the same vein, a TUI global survey found that two-thirds of holidaymakers are willing “to make lifestyle trade-offs to benefit the environment” (TUI, 2017).

By going green, then, a property can not only appeal to and attract today’s eco-aware travelers, but also help its guests benefit the environment without compromising the quality of their trip.

What does it take to be recognized as an eco-friendly property?

As of now, there is no single, universal set of criteria for officially recognizing properties as eco-friendly.

However, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), the body that manages the global standards for sustainable travel and tourism, created The GSTC Industry Criteria and Suggested Indicators for Hotels in an effort to “come to a common understanding of sustainable tourism.” The idea is to harmonize all the criteria found in the many green hotel certification schemes available, such as Green Key, Green Star Hotel Certificate, etc.

The organization describes the GSTC Criteria as “the minimum that a hotel (or any type of built accommodations) business should aspire to reach.”

Hotels looking to be officially recognized as eco-friendly properties can consider one of the many GSTC-accredited certification bodies around the world.

Find the full list of GSTC-recognized standards and green-certifying bodies for hotels here.

26 views0 comments